Senior Business Reporter
INDUSTRY and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza has said Zimbabwe’s international re-engagement drive is one of the key priorities the country is using to benchmark with other nations through creating strong bi-lateral relations, skills and expertise.
Minister Nzenza was speaking during the virtual Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils (GFCC) forum, held under the theme, “Frame the Future – Benchmarking” said Zimbabwe is on the drive to re-engage and reindustrialise.
“Within the subject of national competitiveness and industrial productivity, we are also at a stage where we have signed to the Africa Free Continental Trade Area, where as a country and the re-engagement agenda, taking a specific sectoral approach, we are saying Zimbabwe is so fortunate to have so many resources.
“But over a period of time we have not utilised them, therefore under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), we are looking at value addition, beneficiation and manufacturing within the country and also looking at the regional value chains to ensure the products that we make in
Zimbabwe meet quality standards and are competitive within the region,” she said.
Dr Nzenza added that the intention was not only to penetrate within the value chain, but also within international value chains.
GFCC is a network of leaders and organizations from around the world committed to competitiveness and higher living standards. Its members strive to achieve innovation, productivity and prosperity in their nations, regions and cities.
According to Minister Nzenza, Zimbabwe’s National Competitiveness Commission is now a part/member of the GFCC and the council has expressed interest to visit Zimbabwe.
In her presentation, Minister Nzenza said the country has been setting targets for performance, and working with institutions such as the GFCC and other regional and international competitiveness bodies.
“As a result of this, Zimbabwe is going to be able to achieve the competitiveness that it so desires to achieve as we penetrate these international value chains,” she said.
Minister Nzenza said benchmarking competitiveness is key, but given Zimbabwe’s situational context, the key priorities that it needs to look at is how to alleviate poverty in order to manage disasters.
“The country needs to find new ways of framing the future because there are new challenges and disasters that we had not anticipated,” she said.
Minister Nzenza said benchmarking as a key thing, with focus on innovation sustainability and resilience, this captured the need for Zimbabwe to join the platform.
“Zimbabwe as a country has been in the media for not so good reasons, but we are now on a growth trajectory and a re-engagement mandate which has been extended to the various countries, and other countries that we had open conversation with.
“This comes at a time when we are recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. But we have also seen that as a country, there are opportunities that can come out of the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
She said prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the country had been importing so many products before that could be produced locally.
“When the borders closed, we realised that there is an opportunity to be innovative. We were not making the PPE’s, but our universities through innovation hubs, quickly learnt how to make sanitizers, also to make the masks, gowns, and everything that was needed,” she said.
She said the country is one of the best performing countries in Africa on the vaccination program with Victoria Falls having received 98 percent herd immunity as a result of quickly accepting that there is a crisis.
“We also had a fair share of shocks, three years ago, there was cyclone idai and had never happened before, but we started to have discussions fully on the topic of climate change,” she said.